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Biodiversity at 25: An Argument for a Critical Understanding of the Normative Role of Biodiversity

Scientific concepts have often played the role of proxies for ethical values. This is especially true for values assigned to nature, such as conservation value. Since its origin in 1986, the concept of biodiversity has emerged as one of the most influential in this tradition of proxy concepts. Contrary to all expectations, recent research in microbial biology in the Amazon shows that in cases of ecosystem conversions, diversity goes up.
When Jan 27, 2014
from 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM
Where 112 Borland lab, University Park, PA 16802
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Biodiversity at 25: An Argument for a Critical Understanding of the Normative Role of Biodiversity

Scientific concepts have often played the role of proxies for ethical values. This is especially true for values assigned to nature, such as conservation value. Since its origin in 1986, the concept of biodiversity has emerged as one of the most influential in this tradition of proxy concepts. Contrary to all expectations, recent research in microbial biology in the Amazon shows that in cases of ecosystem conversions, diversity goes up. If number of species is all we care, we should be converting the rain forest to farmland even faster. I consider this false positive as an opportunity to think differently about how we conceive of biodiversity and of the role it plays in policy debates. I propose three critical arguments for any future use of biodiversity in evidence-based arguments for conservation policy makers.